US Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing and Services Nicole Lamb-Hale, center, with US Consul General Timothy Pounds, left, and Consul for Commercial Affairs Nasir Abbasi at the roundtable discussions in Alkhobar on Tuesday. (AN photo by Boutros Ayad)
By SIRAJ WAHAB | ARAB NEWS, Published: Apr 18, 2012 01:43, Updated: Apr 18, 2012
ALKHOBAR: A high-level US government trade official said Saudi Arabia has enormous potential to develop renewable energy and energy efficiency to become a global leader.
US Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing and Services Nicole Lamb-Hale was speaking to journalists in Alkhobar while leading a business delegation of what she described as 13 outstanding companies that are leaders in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
“As Saudi Arabia enters the new age, we are willing to help the Kingdom diversify its economy as it expands its manufacturing and services sectors and unleashes a greater entrepreneurship,” she said. “We fully support the Kingdom’s desire to be a regional renewable energy and energy efficiency leader.”
She talked of the enormous economic activity in Saudi Arabia and especially in the Eastern Province. “After spending a few days here, it is clear to me that Saudi Arabia is serious about operating solar power and energy efficiency in its efforts to promote sustainable development,” she said.
Saudi Arabia is looking at various alternatives for energy resources that can help boost the country’s power generation and to meet rising electricity demand. Solar energy is being increasingly seen as a likely solution that can meet this jump in power demand.
Lamb described the Saudi government’s intention to source 5 gigawatts of electricity from solar power by 2020 as an ambitious target. “This is why we are here,” she said. “We want to extend our expertise to Saudi Arabia … US companies stand ready to support the Kingdom in these efforts, and as I understand Saudi Aramco is leading the charge on much of the solar power deployment in Saudi Arabia,” she said.
The US will extend multiple services to the Kingdom in its pursuit to lessen dependence on oil for power generation and development of alternative energy sources, environmentally secure and highly credible, particularly in light of growing demand on energy in the Kingdom, she said.
According to Lamb, the 13 visiting companies are not just interested in one event or one deal. “They want to establish long-term partnership that brings US-made technology to the Kingdom,” she said.
Also present at the roundtable discussions were US Consul General Timothy Pounds and Consul for Commercial Affairs Nasir Abbasi.
According to Pounds, Saudi-American trade ties are growing from strength to strength.
“There is a decades-long tradition and history of cooperation between American firms and Saudi firms. It goes back to the 1940s,” he said and pointed that in the last 12 months, 230 new American firms have started doing business in Saudi Arabia for the first time.
“The trade balance has gone up 30 percent in the last year. In 2011, the two-way trade was $61 billion. This indicates a lot of investment by US companies in Saudi partners and Saudi partners in US companies,” said Pounds. “Our relationship is very strong.”
The delegates met a number of Saudi officials and businessmen during their visit to the Asharqia Chamber and Saudi Aramco on Tuesday. A large number of Saudi businessmen turned up at the Le Meridien Alkhobar to connect with the delegates at “matchmaking appointment meetings”.
The companies in the delegation include Abound Solar, Areva Solar, Capstone Turbine, Dais Analytic Corporation, First Solar, Opower, OSIsoft, Petra Solar, Recurrent Energy, SAIC Energy Environment and Infrastructure, SkyFuel, SunEdison and Sunshine Industries.
“I will make sure that other US companies know that there are tremendous opportunities in Saudi Arabia and that they need to come here as soon as possible,” Lamb-Hale added.